HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Concerns that a proposed solar farm could become a wind farm project, too, are worrying some Baltimorearea landowners.
A public meeting about two proposed 10-megawatt solar farms on about 500 acres in the Community Centre and Payne roads in the Baltimore area will be held Thursday evening by the American developer. Several families who live close by are anxious to hear details and have expressed concerns about the impact of this type of green energy-generation on their doorstep.
“They are opening the door to a solar farm… and I expect a windmill (farm) will follow,” says Marie Elise Vaillancourt-Henry, who lives on Community Centre Road across from the Penn Energy Renewable proposed 500-acre site.
Just the visual impact of solar panels is enough of a concern, she said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“It is just solar photovoltaic only, ” Penn Energy Trust spokesperson Kirt Mayland said when asked about the project.
Together, if approved under the provincial Clean Energy Act, the two proposed solar farms would use less than half of the 500 acres – more likely closer to about 80, Mayland said during an interview Tuesday from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
An Ontario Power Authority “preliminary” contract is in place to supply 10 megawatts of solar power, he said, but all of the environmental, heritage and other approvals must still be reached with the provincial ministries which include natural resources and environment. Another proposal is also being made for a property next to this one for another 10 megawatts, Mayland said.
The Feed-In Tariff application has been made for the property, he said.
“We’re working on it right now” and hope to have it up and running in less than two years, Mayland said.
The company is also pursing a site near Wesleyville and held a public meeting in Port Hope Monday night. See tomorrow’s newspaper for more details about it and comments from the company about why this area is prime for solar-power generation/distribution.
At the initial public meeting this week for the Hamilton Township site there will be a presentation including video and photographs “so people can see what the project will look like, he said.
A question-and-answer period will follow.
Vaillancourt-Henry says she and her husband, Stuart Henry, have been doing research and plan to attend the public meeting armed with information as well as questions. They retired to their farm property near the proposed solar site about 10 years ago. Because of their proximity, they received a registered letter about it.
There was also a notice given to Hamilton Township councillors, although the approval process for this is now a provincial, not a municipal, responsibility.
The Penn Energy Trust website states that the company is “committed to the development of renewable energy projects in North America.”
Such installations should not be located near homes, Vaillancourt-Henry said.
“It’s not just the (familiar refrain), ‘not in my back yard,’ but not in anybody’s back yard,” she said.
Another neighbouring farm, owned by John and Pam Hambly, is among those closest to the proposed solar-power-generation site.
“It would appear some of the local agriculture land will no longer be so (if the solar farms go ahead),” Pam Hambly said. “That’s problematic.”
She’s also worried about increased traffic into the area.
Like her neighbours, she and her husband will be attending the Thursday information session being held by the developer.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Baltimore Recreation Centre.
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